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How to carry out safe viewings when selling your home

While the UK has been gradually easing out of lockdown for the past few months, times are still strange and it is very much still a ‘new normal’. Across the country, people are growing accustomed to a world of social distancing, wearing masks, stricter hygiene and working from home.

The change in how we do things has very much extended to the world of property, too. Although in-person viewings have been permitted since mid-May, when the property market reopened, they now have a number of rules and regulations governing their use.

Below, we outline how you can work with your agent to ensure you are carrying out viewings in a safe and compliant way.

Ventilation, hand-washing and social distancing

Virtual viewings are still being recommended as a first port of call, where possible, to make sure that a buyer is serious about your home before viewing it in the flesh.

But it is likely that most purchasers will still want to see their potential future home on a physical basis before committing to an offer. Virtual viewings, while highly useful, can’t quite replicate the sights, sounds and feel of an in-person experience.

While this wasn’t possible for the best part of two months, the restart of the market allowed these to happen again – albeit with strict guidance in place to ensure they were carried out safely and limited the chances of coronavirus being spread.

The government advice on moving home during Covid-19 was updated in mid-May to provide buyers, sellers and agents with clear guidance on how the process should work, with this updated advice remaining unchanged since May 21 2020.

The advice said people were free to move home again, but pointed out that the process would be different for some time, with all parties needing to adapt their practices and procedures to ensure that the risk of spreading coronavirus is as low as possible.

That means initial viewings should be done remotely wherever possible. Physical viewings, meanwhile, should be limited to members of the same household, while open house viewings are currently off the table.

As for the viewing itself, there are a number of new measures which you and your agent should be aware of.

Buyers should avoid touching surfaces and wash their hands regularly. If small children have to join the viewing, their parents should try to keep them from touching surfaces as well as ensuring they wash their hands frequently.

As the seller, it’s your responsibility to open all internal doors and windows for added ventilation – the virus survives for less time outdoors – as well as ensuring that surfaces, including door handles, kitchen worktops, bannisters and other things people may touch throughout the viewing, are cleaned after each viewing.

The government also recommends that you vacate your property while viewings are taking place to minimise contact with those from outside your household. All viewings must be by appointment-only, which means you shouldn’t just accept someone turning up at your house and expecting to be let in.

Anyone involved in any part of the home moving process should practice social distancing at all times, in line with the general public health advice to limit the spread of the virus. If you’re particularly concerned about the risk of infection when selling your home, speak to your estate agent as they may be able to put extra safety measures in place.

How to make your home safe when selling

You should work closely with your agent to ensure that your home is ready to accept viewings in a safe and compliant manner before letting anyone into the property. This will help to limit the spread of Covid-19.

The more confident and assured your buyers feel, the less they will be distracted by worries over infection and the more time they will have to focus on your home. That can only be a good thing.

Clean all surfaces in line with government advice after every viewing. You may even want to hire in a professional cleaner on a weekly basis to give your home a regular once-over. Not only will this ensure your home is in great condition for viewings, it will also help in the fight against Covid.

Spaced out viewings may also be a wise move. Perhaps no more than one a day, or a few each week, to make sure you have the time to clean your home adequately. It might seem as if three or four viewings per day will speed up the sale of your home, but it will also mean more work for you and could grow the chances of rules being broken.

You might want to provide masks and gloves at the front door for any viewers who don’t have these, while hand sanitiser being on offer when they enter and exit will provide an extra layer of peace of mind.

You should open all internal doors and windows and allow easy access to handwashing facilities. Ideally, you should provide separate towels/paper towels for each person in your home – likely to be one or two people viewing the home and then the agent.

When arranging the viewing, your agent will ask buyers to restrict the number of people accompanying them on the viewing – and only people in their immediate household should be attending anyway. The days of five or six people attending a viewing are long gone for now.

The government expects agents to accompany clients on a viewing, following social distancing rules wherever possible.

This can be made easier by ensuring walkways and corridors are free of clutter and obstructions. You should also set your home up in such a way to make a one-way system feasible. This might not be as feasible in smaller or tighter homes, but you should work with your agent to ensure that social distancing is prioritised as much as possible.

If viewings take place without an agent – with a buyer viewing the home on their own, or you showing them around – your agent should still ensure that all parties understand the obligations of a safe viewing. After any viewing, towels should be disposed of safely or washed as appropriate.

You can see the full government guidance on moving home safely during coronavirus by clicking here.

Here at Ideal Locations, we can help you to sell your home in the new normal. If you require advice on any part of the moving process or how the market is functioning post-coronavirus, get in touch with us today.

You can also kickstart your transaction with a free and instant online valuation to give you an idea of how much your home could be worth in the current marketplace.